Brickbats

From the National Law Journal and Chicago lawyer Gerald Skoning come a top 10 list of wackiest cases in employment law. On the list is a Chicago woman who claimed she was passed over for a promotion because of her disability: She claims to have a microchip embedded in her tooth that allows her to communicate with others. The EEOC launched an investigation of her claim. Also on the list is a man who was fired after bringing a gun to work. He said he was entitled to protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act because he is under psychiatric care. A judge gave him a jury trial.

This might make Skoning's list next year. Nyleen Mullaly has sued the Minnesota Army National Guard, claiming that its weight restrictions violate her rights because she has an eating disorder. Mullaly weighs 220 pounds. Regulations say she should weigh no more than 155.

In Houston, Judge J.R. Musslewhite has been reprimanded for fondling female prosecutors and for drinking the evidence in a drunken driving case. I smell another addition to Skoning's list.

In Mississippi, the state legislature has finally ratified the 13th Amendment and outlawed slavery.

This is how Amtrak President Thomas H. Downs began his first appearance before the new Republican-controlled Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, chaired by Larry Pressler of South Dakota. Downs: "I want to say how terribly sorry I am we don't have rail passenger service in North Dakota." Pressler: "South Dakota." Downs: "I'm one strike behind already."

Meanwhile, Pressler's Senate colleague Jesse Helms (R- N.C.) reportedly embarrassed staffers by referring to North Korean President Kim Jong Il as "Kim Jong Two" when reading from a prepared speech. To correct this mistake, in Helms's next speech the staffers helpfully spelled the name phonetically as Kim Jong Ill. Helms referred to him that time as Kim Jong the Third.

In Ventura, California, bookstore owner Ed Elrod put a sign on an easel in his store announcing that ACLU President Nadine Strossen would be appearing to promote her new book Defending Pornography. The city quickly slapped him with a fine for failing to get a permit to display a portable sign. Oddly, although the city has more than 400 complaints of such violations pending, Elrod went right to the top of the list.

Also in California, San Fernando Superior Court Judge John Farrell's two sons are members of the Boy Scouts. Farrell drives the troop on outings and has chaperoned them on hikes. He has come under criticism from other judges, who say that his behavior is unethical. Indeed, some of his fellow jurists have even suggested that he resign from the bench if he continues to help his sons this way. The Scouts, remember, exclude homosexuals, and critics, including many judges, say jurists should not be associated with organizations that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

Mychael Ramsey, a 16-year-old from Kansas City, Missouri, rushed into a burning building and pulled out an 83- year- old woman and her 67- year- old brother, then went back in to get her retarded daughter. As a result of his actions, he had to spend several hours in the hospital recovering from smoke inhalation. Some people think that Ramsey is a hero. But not the Justice Department. The department has announced that it may keep a Young American Medal for Bravery that it was going to give him. The reason: Ramsey has since been busted for possession of marijuana.

In Nashville, Tennessee, two state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would punish vandals, burglars, and flag burners with a caning on the courthouse steps. Said Republican Rep. Doug Gunnels: "I'm not an expert on crime. But people who are involved in more serious crimes usually start out with crimes like this." Yes, I believe that Ted Bundy got his start as a flag burner.

The Pakistani army gave its Swedish counterpart three thoroughbred geldings in a show of admiration. Unfortunately, Sweden bans the import of Asian horses because of fears of infection. Rather than offend the Pakistanis by returning the horses, the Swedes killed them. The Pakistanis were offended.

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